CMM's history is a long story for sure. Stretching over the past three decades – if not more –, it has been an adventure since day one.
In order to celebrate the new iteration of our website made available online, we have asked the independent journalist Matthias Mineur (METAL HAMMER, GITARRE & BASS) to tell it in his own words. He succeeded in making it an interesting, enjoyable read for you – Thank you, Mr. Mineur!
So welcome to our world and enjoy the ride!
The ever increasing use of digital media, changes in recreational behavior and economic decline in a substantial number of core markets have left the music industry facing serious global challenges. Challenges CMM GMBH are ready for: hailing from Hanover, Germany, founder Wolfgang Rott and his team offer an all-round approach to music marketing, covering all aspects of public relations from print and web to broadcasting and club – you name it. Other areas of expertise include marketing and development of large events all the way from the conception stage to supervision in action. Consulting for big companies and renowned bands is yet another main service they offer. CMM GMBH also run their own label SAOL, serve as music publishers and have recently established their own booking department for in-house artists. The range of CMM’s services spans all of the European continent and is rooted in their worldwide network.
Wolfgang Rott on CMM’s philosophy: “The traditional distinction between record labels, publishers, management, agents, tour managers and merch companies hardly exists anymore. This has led to a situation in which young artists often find themselves looking for people with the patience and the means to allow them to develop their talents. Instead, reality television casting formats and competitive, soap opera-style talent shows have risen as questionable ready-made substitutes. The number of artists with true character has been sinking dramatically as a result of this. Unique talent not immediately suited for the mainstream barely stands a chance on the market these days. What we’re trying to do is to go against this downward trend.”
CMM take care of all things marketing for a large number of artists, companies and events. CMM count high-profile bands among their clients – such as Iron Maiden or Megadeth as well as spectacular projects like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which (after taking on the States) heralded their conquest of Europe with a sensational show at Wacken 2015. On top of that, annual festivals like 70000Tons of Metal, MetalDays and other big events are part of CMM’s agenda.
The list of frequent collaborators might as well be a list of music’s most influential names – such as Universal, Warner, Sony, Edel, Phantom Management (Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson and others), Nightcastle Management (Savatage, TSO), BMG/Noise, Ultimate Music Cruises and Artfest Slovenia. CMM are renowned for their praised international network and trustworthy cooperation with important musicians from across the globe.
CMM has been a success story since its beginnings in the late 1970s. Before that, the company’s founder Wolfgang Rott worked as a clerk in the local town council while playing the drums and singing in various bands. He quit his day job when Frank Bornemann, head of German prog-rock legend Eloy and owner of Horus Sound Studios in Hanover, asked him to start working as his manager. Rott proceeded to become the tour manager for various bands from Hanover and worked with artists like Eruption, Eric Burdon and John Mayall.
In 1983, he founded R + B Production with a partner and started to organize shows for Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Dieter Hallervorden and Romy Haag, to name a few. This led to him being Joe Cocker’s tour manager and management consultant for three years. Together with Folker Koopmanns, Rott went on to assume music program responsibilities for the Hamburg-based clubs Docks and Große Freiheit 36. Rott: “At some point, the record label EMI asked me to do management and booking for their newcomer Axxis. Thus, in the fall of 1989, CMM was born.”
Following the highly successful partnership with Axxis (whose first record still holds the title of “best-selling hard rock debut in Germany”, having sold more than 100.000 copies), CMM took on promotional duties for The Sweet and Tony Martin, who was Black Sabbath’s singer at the time. From 1991 to 1994, CMM were busy organizing shows for acts like Metal Church and Lovetrick from Southern Germany. They were also the first to put in place promotion of catalogs and DVDs, used extensively by Warner Music at the time for artists such as Aha, AC/DC, Madonna, Queen, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Status Quo, Rush, Marilyn Manson and Europe. A major highlight of that era was the release of Led Zeppelin’s DVD When The West Was Won, which marked the reunion of the band’s remaining original members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John-Paul Jones. CMM’s seminal work also comprises club-based release parties and pan-European festival promotion.
In the mid-90s, CMM’s dedication and experience bore a well-deserved fruit. The eventful years of 1996 and 1997 saw the team working with every single artist who had signed with SPV, a record label then teaming with stars, while also tending to the needs of some of the world’s biggest rock acts, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Motörhead, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Manowar, Savatage, Anthrax, Gary Moore, Saga, Saxon, Gotthard, Dio, Dream Theater and the Scorpions. Rott: “We had another success with Helloween’s comeback record The Master of the Rings, which sold over 100.000 copies in Germany alone thanks to our help, ranking among the Top 100 for six weeks.”
The logical next step in CMM’s trajectory was turning the promotional department into a GMBH (the German equivalent of an LLC) while management and publishing were maintained by Rott alone. More prosperous years followed, until the company had to face a small crisis in 2004, when the growing hurdles of the music industry forced record labels to sever many well-established ties with promotional agencies. Rott chose to regroup, turning CMM into CMM W.ROTT – a decision that resulted in a fruitful collaboration with EMI and the success of Iron Maiden’s Dance of Death. Ever since Brave New World (2000), Rott and his team have been helping the English band obtain gold status with every release; Flight 666 even reached platinum. 2006’s A Matter of Life and Death also ushered in a chart-topping streak for the band that has yet to be broken.
The present iteration of CMM GMBH took form in 2008. Still based in Hanover, Rott assembled a new team and set out to stay true to his previous successes – and successful they were: giants like Judas Priest (Nostradamus, 2008 & Redeemer Of Souls, 2014), W.A.S.P. (Dominator 2007 & Babylon, 2009), Slayer (World Painted Blood, 2009) and Blind Guardian (Memories Of A Time To Come, 2012) all surpassed sales expectations thanks to their support. The label service SAOL became another mainstay for CMM GMBH, with over 100 releases by artists from Germany, the States, Canada, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, and many more – Cripper, Striker and Cryptex are just a few of the many young talents worth mentioning in this context.
When asked about his tireless passion for this line of work, Rott says: “I love my job because of the fun we’re having as a team, because the business keeps me young and because I know that if you get it right, your ideas can still make a difference. The challenges keep coming too – as of 2009, we’re doing the planning and now the marketing for the 70000Tons of Metal cruise, Metal Camp has transformed into MetalDays, and there’s always more. Like Iron Maiden’s latest album The Book of Souls for instance: we battled with Helene Fischer and Sido for the top of the German charts with that one. New market segments excite me as well. Metal Tales is the first online game we’re promoting.”
Today, CMM GMBH is a name that stands for dedication, experience, flexibility and an unbroken love for the music world. Wolfgang Rott’s 2017 team is a well-rounded mix of experts and young, motivated people. Their clients benefit from the company’s large database and vast archives and informative newsletters as well as from a network of countless contacts with musicians, managers, journalists, event managers and labels. 2017 is going to be another year in which Rott and his team will stick to the motto: a team that is half experience, half creativity will achieve great things for the artists and their projects.
Matthias Mineur, Freelance journalist at and
Hanover, May 2017